With an upcoming June 1 voter registration deadline looming, Pete Harckham, Democratic candidate for the 40th New York State Senate District, is calling for early voting and automatic voter registration in New York State. Harckham objects to a bill sponsored by State Senator Terrence Murphy (R- Yorktown) which would require a government ID card to be presented when casting a ballot.

“Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem,” Harckham says. “Voter impersonation is vanishingly rare and every study that has examined the issue has borne this out. The only thing voter ID laws accomplish are to disenfranchise poor and historically oppressed communities. Sen. Murphy’s S298 bill will not deter fraud. It can lead to the kind voter suppression we left behind in the Jim Crow era. This is clearly not in keeping with Hudson Valley values.”

“We need to enable voters, rather than create barriers to voting access,” continued Harckham. “There is currently no early voting or automatic voter registration in New York State because of obstructionist efforts in the Republican-controlled State Senate.  We need progressive policies that would strengthen the state’s electoral system and make it easier for voters to participate in elections.”  According to Harckham, calls for voter ID regulations can be traced back to Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud.  Once the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity found no evidence to support this claim, Trump shut the commission down.  In other states, photo ID voting laws have been challenged or struck down in court and even Republican Rep. John Faso, whose congressional district 19 overlaps with part of NY SD 40, has said he has “not seen any evidence that New York needs a voter identification law.”

Friday June 1 is the deadline for new voters to register for the June 26 federal primary.  Harckham, who actively supported voting rights while serving as Westchester County Legislature Majority Leader, wants to remind residents of Dutchess County and first-time voters elsewhere across NY State to register.  Full details are available from the New York State Board of Elections at https://www.elections.ny.gov/.  “Registering to vote is important for all citizens as we approach the mid-term elections,” Harckham notes.  “As JFK said, ‘One person can make a difference and everyone should try.’”

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